Standardized test taking deadly toll
CHICAGO (ap) -- Local high school students' chances of attending a prestigious university are about to be squashed as they begin the two-day Prairie State Achievement Examination. Today, juniors around the state are taking the ACT, a standardized test that is a hundred times stronger than heroin and can kill college chances in an instant.
"It's an American tragedy," said Richard Gunn, a photographer and publisher, whose son Tommy's college chances died last year with a disastrous ACT score.
A 19-year-old woman, who has fierce eyes but no future, spoke about her experience last year. She did not pass out during the testing, as some test-takers do, but she knew something was wrong from the moment she sat down with her two sharpened number 2 pencils.
"The most scariest part about it was I couldn't catch my breath," she said. "That lasted a long time."
The ACT, in an overdose situation, seizes muscles at the rib cage, causing instant spasms.
Chicago Public Schools students, with slim chances of finishing college even if they're accepted, are entering today's test undaunted. "Yeah, whatever," said one student, hardened by months of ACT preparation. "If we do well, our school gets off probation. That's all I know about it."
Nationally, the average ACT score is 20.9 on a 36-point scale. In Chicago, the average is 16.7.
CPS teachers are not too concerned about the poor showing by their students. "I've got tenure, so what are they gonna do?" said one teacher who plans to do Sodoku puzzles as she proctors the test.